Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Peebles for Feebles

Tuesday 27th was defo the day, the epicentre of high pressure and sunshine, and therefore earmarked for the long run of the holidays. I would have preferred Wednesday which would have allowed Jan's TB to be ticked off but the forecast said Tuesday and I'd been keeping a careful eye on it for days - you know what the weather folk are like. I sent out invites but there were only 2 takers, Nick and Jim. (I think it was Nick who had suggested we revisit Feb's wash out TB from Peebles to Hillend.) Checking the weather forecast minutes before I left the house, the forecasters reneged on the deal; but luckily real life didn't pay any attention to their by now gloomy prophecies. It seemed bright and the bag was packed.

Nick astride a Peebles war memorial
(Jim in the background singing if I could turn back time.)

I had already done a December Tyncastle Bronze but Nick hadn't so we kept our eyes peeled in Peebles for anything suitable. Well first they had to wait on me getting my Suunto started. I had uploaded the February run gpx into the Suunto as a Nav aid and had to switch the watch on first to Exercise mode then Navigate mode. I pushed the wrong button during this and the compass feature flashed on and asked if I wanted to calibrate it, insisted I calibrate it, wouldn't take no for an answer. It took some time to back-track through the maze of options then restart it from scratch by which time the boys were (patiently) itching to get going. Surprisingly the nav feature worked the whole trip although I didn't dare pause it when we were in pubs or stopped; nor could I toggle to see current mileage or pace, which means I won't be using this function regularly. All I got was a bendy line and us (the arrow) on it. It was handy to confirm route choice although most junctions were way marked. Jim particularly seemed to remember the route accurately. I (back in Feb) must have been head down in full blether mode relying on Graham who was chief route finder. There were 5 of us back in Feb - Phil and Graham absent on this occasion.

steep climb out of Peebles

Last time Nick wore old Hokas with polished soles and pretty much first opportunity he got (the wet wooden bridge) he was on all fours. There was much encouragement for him to perform similarly this time but the Salomon shoes had more grip and kept him upright for almost the whole journey.

what could possibly go wrong?

2016 strikes again

There was much chat about the curse of 2016 and demise of assorted celebs, and how there seemed to be an end of year sale. And while some of the deceased might have left the party surprisingly early, others had clearly been shovelling chemicals and living the rockstar lifestyle in such a way that the only surprise was that many of their colleagues hadn't checked out with them. 

A handful of miles into the run and the path disappears into the woods. This was a very welcome shelter from the elements last time. This time the gradient (steep) was more the thing I noticed. But then again I was carrying a large heavy pack jammed full of clothes, larder and kitchen sink. Jim and Nick seemed to have brought f all - assuming the pubs en route would supply all their requirements. I was also wearing gloves, hat, leggings and several top layers. (Based on a recent Baltic run with Mary up the Seat.) I must have missed the memo saying (black) shorts, l/s top and only a sandwich. Curses. 

While none of the trails we ran on were a surprise, once we were on them, I would certainly have run past a couple of turn-offs incl this one were it not for the Suunto (and a signpost or 2).

Some lovely trails and the feet were still fairly dry at this point.


I wanted to impress the team with my special winter treat - hot grog. I think it might have been Mary who first mentioned this, but I got my hands on the idea and ran with it. Michael G and I did a couple of runs with hot grog either side. A snifter to get the engine firing and then, after the run, a further blast to toast the success of it. A potent but tastey mix of cheap whisky, port, honey and flavourings and basically anything around the house. Topped up with boiling water and kept warm in a flask.

About 90 mins into the run we agreed a hot drink would be beneficial. I had brought a smallish flask and three cups (aptly originating from the Whisky Chaser and Solstice runs.) I poured out measures and, well the boys laughed when they tasted it.

I think the problem was the chillies. The night before I chopped up maybe 8 or 10 chillies and soaked them in the half bottle of Tesco's least finest cooking whisky. I tasted it a couple of hours later and hastily strained the chillies out as it had quite a lot of flavour. Kick would be putting it kindly. But I thought the blowtorch effect would be diluted by the port and honey. Next morning I had the idea not to add hot water but heat it in the microwave and keep the stuff (since weight was at a premium) neat. Rocket fuel would be flattering it. More like paintstripper. Unfortunately the heat of the chillies gave it a turpentiney afterglow and there was a serious worry we might all be in for a firey reappearance at a later point. Jim, being polite, said it reminded him of his Gran's house. I'm guessing she used wallpaper stripper a lot.

it seemed like a good idea

West Linton with wm from last time.

Hmmm no photos from the Gordon Arms in West Linton. We ordered pints and then, trying not to offend the landlord, surreptitiously ate our sandwiches. Nick was folding a large wrap into his mouth when we asked him to tell us his life story and he nearly coughed it onto the table. He also had the good idea to return the glasses to the counter and not have the staff come any closer to the chairs we had reupholstered with a layer of mud. I had forgotten the route post-pub crosses the road and climbs possibly the toughest gradient of the day. We nearly saw Nick's wrap again.

Nick frightening the horses.

Almost too soon, we were only just getting warmed up again, we were upon the Allan Ramsay at Carlops. Another pint, I enjoyed this one less, then back out and another climb up into the foothills of the Pentlands.

So it was all quite pleasant. There was some nice sunset effects going on behind us, we were on the outskirts of Edinburgh with just a few old friends (West Kip etc) to run past, then some more drink and hardly any running left to do. Except for one or 2 hills. And also, luckily, I couldn't see the mileage, still having the Suunto on Nav. The going underfoot was a bit taxing though. A lot of splosh, and cold splosh at that. The feet were now wet and about to be soaking. There was a cold breeze in the air and things were getting chilly. I was, for the first time in the day, glad of my running tights and gloves. We passed a couple of guys at that trough with pennies in, dooking for said pennies, shouting their pain at the cold. 

When we got to W Kip, Jim was on auto pilot shortest way home mode and had us contour around the side on a very nice track I hadn't been on before. It met up to that "gate" at the bottom of W Kip the C5 goes through. Spirits were high despite facing all that bone wearying tarmac round the reservoirs before you eventually turn off to heading towards Allermuir. I think we were all feeling it about there. Then I made the mistake of asking Nick how far we had run and he said 23 miles. Jeezo it felt like 33. How had we managed so few miles and still been out all day? This was the lowest point on the run for me and we still had maybe another mile of slog over soggy bog from there to the climb up Allermuir. In the dwindling twilight it was an unwelcome grind. 

I was a stumbling wreck when 2/3rds of the way up Allermuir we bumped into Neil and son out for a bracing walk. There is hope for the next generation! Jim and Nick seem quite animated in the photo but it felt like a dream sequence to me. The wind helped us up past the turnstile and Jim seemed to find a path that avoided the hideous ups-and-downs of the last mile of the Skyline, taking us down and along to the ski centre. The troops were flagging by this point so Nick did a trademark pratfall to make us smile.

last summit, yeaahhhhh

I think we all felt it was much tougher than it should have been today. Given the rain and slippy descents in February this should have been a walk in the park by comparison, but it felt just as hard going if not worse. And we were a couple of miles shorter on this occasion having taken the direct line at the Pentlands. To cheer us up Jim produced Waitrose mince pies in individually ziplocked baggies. Who doesn't love small ziplocked baggies? I have a collection: very handy for foodstuffs and keeping a sheaf of kitchen roll dry on a long run etc. And the pies were FAB. I think we maybe had a couple of pints; I remember being aware we had to get Nick back to the station for 1 of 3 possible trains and if drinking was to be done (and drinking was to be done) then it should be done nearer to the Platform. 

me having a whitey

When the topic of TB runs and mileage came up earlier (we only got to about 27 at The Steading) I meanly put forth I had done my TB for the month. However, restored by pie and pint, I resolved that we should do the small distance left to take Nick up to 30+ for the day. Plus this would take us closer to the station. By Fairmilehead Jim felt he was on the event horizon of an injury and opted to bus it home. Nick ran across the road to relieve himself behind a hedge then ran back waving to the camera. The spacecraft of the day hadn't fully landed on earth. We ran with grace and agility, or what felt very much like that, to the Merlin in Morningside, (which Nick was calling The Falcon,) where another 2 pints were consumed in order to fill the necessary time before Nick's train arrived on the other side of town. I'm pretty sure we got him there, and I jogged back home very impressed with myself for remembering to buy honey and milk for the following day's breakfast. Mary however wasn't convinced I was sober on arrival home and I might not have been.
Another superb Tynecastle Bronze run.

map until The Steading (26.6miles)
nearly 6 miles from there to home via station

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